Sciabola-baionetta (e Baionetta-pugnale) Modello 1870, 70/87, 70/87/15 e 70/15
Sword-bayonet (and Bayonet-dagger) Model 1870, 70/87, 70/87/15 and 70/15
Together with the single-shot 10.4 mm Vetterli Modello 1870 Fucile (Vetterli Model 1870 Rifle) the Sciabola-baionetta Modello 70 (Sword-bayonet Model 1870) is introduced for use with the Italian armed forces. This 52 cm long bayonet (without scabbard) has dark Bakelite grips which are attached by two pins. The bayonet is attached on the side of the rifle by the use of a ring (around the barrel) and a locking mechanism which acts through a metal spring plate which begins near the first pin of the grip as seen from the blade. The bayonet is also equipped with a hooked cross guard for hand-to-hand combat.
In 1887 the Vetterli-Vitali Modello 70/87 Fucile (Vetterli-Vitali Model 70/87 Rifle) is introduced which is equipped with a 4*10.4 magazine. This rifle received its own customized bayonet; the Modello 70/87. The previous Bakelite grips are replaced with wooden grips, the spring plate is shortened starting from the second pin of the grip (as seen from the blade) and a small notch at the base of the mounting ring (for around the barrel) was applied. However, the introduction of the Model 70/87 happened gradually. This caused variations, such as Model 70/87 bayonets with Bakelite grips. In addition Model 1870 bayonets, of which the original grips were damaged, were fitted with wooden versions. The only definite distinction can be made by looking at the notch.
After her entry in World War I Italy faced a shortage in the number of available rifles. This forced Italy to equip her forces even with the obsolete Vetterli-Vitali Model 70/87. As an emergency measure it was decided to rebuild the Vetterli-Vitali's so they could make use of the 6.5 x 52 mm. magazine. This rifle was given the name Vetterli Modello 70/87/15 Fucile or Vetterli Modello 70/87/16 Fucile, depending on the Arsenal performing the conversion.
The bayonets were also modernized. The blades were shortened in two sizes:
The Sciabola-baionetta Modello 70/87/15 or 70/15 to a blade off approximately 30.5 cm
The Baionetta-pugnale Modello 70/87/15 or 70/15 to a blade off approximately 22.9 cm
The scabbards were also shortened depending on the length of the blade and in most cases, especially of the Bayonet-dagger, the hooked cross guard was removed.
Two types of scabbards exist for all bayonet variants, both consisting of black leather with brass. They differ in the shape (round or oval) of the button which attached the scabbard to the bayonet frog.
exordinanza.net/schede/BAIO/Baio_Vetterli.htm; F.A. Mancuso
findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_9_53/ai_n27320049/; J. Sheehan
This example is a Sciabola-baionetta Modello 70/15 (Sword-bayonet Model 70/15) made by the Torre Annunziata arsenal, which can be seen looking at their maker mark: TA below a crown. The bayonet has still the Bakelite grips and the hooked cross guard. It has production number UU2490.
This example is a Baionetta-pugnale Modello 70/15 (Bayonet-dagger Model 70/15) made by the Terni Arsenal, while the scabbard is made by S.A. Rejna in 1935. The bayonet has production number CE4543.
This late conversion, of at least the scabbard in 1935, clearly shows that Italy was again, in this case during the Second Italian-Ethiopian War, unable to equip all its units with the Carcano rifle.
Italy was forced to equip many colonial units in East-Africa with Vetterli-Vitali's, even during the Second World War.